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Peru, Bolivia and Chile

Peru, Bolivia and Chile September 2018

When North Americans think about the places they “must-see”, the one that is a guaranteed Top 3 contender is Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

What an epic, astounding, spiritual, inspirational and out-of-this-world… resort. Yup. That’s right folks, it’s a resort. Well at least that’s what it was constructed as – a getaway destination for the Incan Emperor Pachacuti built around 1450. And I must say, his realtor was the bomb, because this place is all about location, location, location. The site was abandoned about a century later during the Spanish conquest. The Peruvian people kept this hidden gem a secret which is credited to its well-preserved state. To date, only a portion of the site has been fully restored.

This estate was constructed on the crest of a mountain, which made it difficult to reach, but a paradise once you arrived. Located 2430 m (7970 feet) above sea level, along the eastern edge of the Andes mountain range and overlooking the Urubamba River, this complex is protected by the elements resulting in a much milder and calmer climate than Cusco, which would have been favoured by the Emperor. There are also subterranean crevices and steep mountain sides that would have served as the perfect natural defenses against potential enemies during the Incan Empire. The site itself is basically a small village with living quarters, agricultural terraces, a cemetery, a prison, temples and even a main square where all the royals would have undoubtedly lounged around drinking Pisco sours, I’m sure 😉. This “village” actually sits between two mountains – Machu Picchu, the mountain to the south that most people cross when they first lay eyes on the magic, and Huayna Picchu, the mountain to the north that is actually featured on ALL of pictures of the site.

Panoramic View of Machu Picchu

Surrounding the ancient village and two mountains is the Urubamba River – basically carving out this little slice of heaven. Seriously have a look at this Google Maps image – it’s fascinating.

You will notice the zig-zagged roadway to the east of the village – the Carretera Hiram Bingham. This road will take you up to the sacred site by bus. By BUS. Not hiking. Bus. You don’t have to worry about spending days hiking, camping and trying not to soil yourself while acclimating to the higher altitude. But hey, if that’s your thing, then you should spend the time to soak in the hike and book with a trusted tour group to guide you through the Inca Trail, while also carrying your tent and belongings, setting up camp and cooking every meal for you so you can really focus on, well, things. I’ve been told that the final climb up Machu Picchu Mountain and the view through the Intipunku (or the Sun Gate) is truly breathtaking, especially after days of hiking, this is the first time you actually spot the village and know it was all worth it. This is a known hot spot for photos, wedding proposals, random acts of elation, and probably where most life changing goals were set.

Getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco:

Option 1 – Hike the Inca Trail

If you crave this type of journey I recommend researching the various tour guides that are available. The tour will generally start at Cusco (where you can fly into) and include your lodging (tent, sleeping bag), food (basic meals), porterage (by the local Peruvians) and guidance. Choose at your own risk, but most companies are reputable since they need the tourism to sustain their economy. Plus the Peruvian people are insanely hospitable, friendly and welcoming. You can’t go wrong.

Option 2 – Take the train and bus

Catch the PeruRail train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Adult return ~$110USD depending on which train you take. Book ahead of time and online.

You can also catch the train in other villages along the way should you choose to lodge somewhere else, such as Urubamba or Ollantaytambo.

Aguas Calientes is the small village at the base of Machu Picchu. There are a few hotels and hostels in this small village but they can be pricey and tough to find a room given the location. There is a decent outdoor market in the centre of town, adjacent to the train station. Warning – the train station is going to be packed. Space on the trains is also limited so you MUST BUY TRAIN TICKETS IN ADVANCE. The ride between Cusco and Aguas Calientes is a long 3-hour ride – that leaves very early in the morning.

Once in Aguas Calientes, you can catch the bus or walk up the side of the mountain to Machu Picchu. The bus takes about 30-40 minutes. The hike is likely closer to 1-1.5 hours.

The bus stop is at the centre of town – you will find it – just follow the people. There are plenty of buses that leave every 10-20 minutes once they are full. Buses drop you off right at the entrance gate to Machu Picchu.

PRO TIP: Sit on the right side of the bus for the best views of the valley and the first look of Machu Picchu

Adult return ticket $19USD. Child return ticket $10USD. Tickets can be purchased up to 7 days in advance. Buy them ahead of time in Cusco or Aguas Calientes; Machu Picchu Bus Information

Exploring Machu Picchu:

There are entrance restrictions to 2500 tourists per day to reduce the impacts of tourism, so you HAVE TO BOOK AHEAD.

Entrance tickets from $60USD. Book tickets here: https://www.ticketmachupicchu.com/

You can also add on the bus from Aguas Calientes for $32USD, private guided tour for $75USD and buffet lunch at the entrance to Machu Picchu for $27USD.

It is nice to have a guide who can explain all the different areas, the history and the meanings. But of course, you can walk the grounds yourself. There are limited signs and explanations though.

We splurged and purchased a guided tour from our hotel which included:

  • Train ride steps from our hotel to Machu Picchu on the return ride home we were picked up in Urubamba (mid point between Cusco and Aguas Calientes) by a private car for a trip back to the hotel.
  • Bus ride to/from Aguas Calientes
  • Guided tour throughout Machu Picchu complex
  • Guided tour and hike up Huayna Picchu
  • Buffet lunch at the Tinkuy Restaurant Sanctuary Lodge
  • The tour was a full day from 6am to 8pm. It was a bit more expensive at $500USD per person than packaging it ourselves which would have come closer to ~$350USD. We had saved a lot of money on flights and hotels on this trip and decided to splurge.

Hiking Huayna Picchu:

For an added experience, you can also hike the steep Huayna Picchu mountain and overlook the ancient city from the top. There are even stricter entrance restrictions of only 400 tourists per day, and there is a window of which you have to complete the hike before they call in the search team for you.

The hike itself is not that bad, although steep, but the altitude makes this a much tougher climb than it appears. The local Peruvians run up the mountain. It could take as little as 20 minutes if you run. But you’re not going to run, so I’m guessing 1-1.5 hrs.

Bundle this mountain ticket with your entrance fee from here: https://www.ticketmachupicchu.com/

Our Peru, Bolivia and Chile Trip September 2018

I had to start with Machu Picchu since it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but there are so many other beautiful places to see in Peru. We specifically focused on the southwestern part of Peru during our September 2018 trip – starting in the capital, Lima, and traveling by bus south along the coast until the border of Bolivia, then flying to Chile and onward to Easter Island. This was a jam-packed 17-day trip.

Day 1 – Arrive in Lima

Flight from Toronto to Lima (stopover in Miami) with American Airlines.

Stay in Miraflores, an affluent district located south of downtown Lima and along the coastline. This is where you will find some of the best restaurants in Lima, shopping, people watching, and feel safe walking the streets any day or night.

Find a hotel with shuttle service from the airport, and that does pick up by Peru Hop. We chose ibis Larco Miraflores for only $65USD.

Day 2 – Paracas and Travel to Huacachina

Hop on the Peru Hop Bus from your hotel at 6am, and spend the next few days exploring the coastline with fellow tourists.

Peru Hop was launched in 2013 and is a FANTASTIC way to see Peru on a budget. It works as a hop-on, hop-off bus system where you can choose when to load and offload. Peru has one of the worst transit systems in the world, and many tourist attractions are simply too far to reach with public transport. This company is safe, reliable and cheap. The tour guides also provide great information on Peru and advice on where to go and what to see.

Peru Hop Bus-Nazca Lines

We chose the Get to Cusco Quick tour for $159USD per person, which consisted of the following:

We had a stopover in Paracas, which turned out to be one of my favourite spots we visited in Peru, and was completely unexpected. With Peru Hop we spent 3 hours at this destination, which included a boat ride to the Islas Ballastas, a group of small islands also known as the Poor-Man’s Galapagos. Here we observed hundreds of penguins, sea lions, cormorants and the famous Blue-footed Boobies. This is also the site where the prized guano is harvested annually and sold internationally as top-quality fertilizer.

The Paracas Candelabra is a prehistoric geoglyph found in the Paracas Peninsula at Pisco Bay, Peru. It is said to date back to 200 B.C.
Guano Covered Rocks-Islas Ballastas, Peru
Humboldt Penguin-Islas Ballastas, Peru
Sea Lions-Islas Ballastas, Peru

After hopping back on the bus, we traveled to Huacachina – the oasis in the middle of the desert. This tiny village is centered around a small lagoon with palm trees and greenery mysteriously located in a valley of sand dunes.

View of Huacachina from the dune

We recommend spending the night at Banana’s Adventure hostel since it is cheap and they offer two free excursions with your stay. Our excursion choices were: sandboarding, a dune buggy tour (canceled), a buffet meal at the hotel or a pisco tour. We chose sand boarding and the buffet since all dune buggy tours operators had been shut down. Two German tourist were killed within the month of our visit and the city shut down all dune buggy tours until they could put more safety protocols into place. The hostel also has plenty of lounge areas to chill or party, a pool and the rooms are spacious and comfortable. If you have the time, I recommend spending a couple of nights here to get to know your fellow travelers and party with the locals.

Sandoarding in Huacachina

*WARNING: Do NOT over-wax your sand board*

Sand is hard. When you wipe out it will hurt. And you will wipe out. Standing to sand board is very difficult, so most people either ride on their bums and go feet first (RECOMMENDED) or lay on their stomachs and go head first (NOT RECOMMENDED). Board at your own risk…

Day 3 – Pisco and Nazca Lines

Board the Peru Hop bus at noon and prepare for a long bus day and overnight.

Visit a Pisco Vineyard where you will learn how this mucho tasty drink is made, and of course sample the famous Pisco sour.

Pisco Sour

Stopover at the famous Nazca Lines – a group of large geoglyphs made in the soil that were created between 500 BC and 500 AD by people making very shallow depressions in the desert floor. These designs include a monkey, hummingbird, spider, fish, condor, lizard, dog, human and many more. It is absolutely insane that these lines were first created over 2000 years ago, and during an era when it would have been IMPOSSIBLE to actually see the designs from the air!

Photo Credit: Go2Peru

There is a viewing tower where you pay a small fee (.60 cents USD) to climb and see some of the lines.

PRO TIP: Purchase the carved rocks with the Geoglyphs from the local vendor. They are some of the best souvenirs.

The best views are however from the air. You can stay overnight in Nazca and pay to fly over the spectacular designs. This extra excursion is possible to book through Peru Hop for $80USD.

Nazca Lines Tree at Sunset-Peru

Dinner stop in Nazca. We ate at a great restaurant with the rest of the Peru Hop travelers. It was nice to meet our fellow companions and learn about their travel plans. I don’t specifically remember what we ate, but I know there were options and that it was good!

*Altitude Sickness Alert* Nazca is 520 m (1710 ft) in elevation, and this is where I started feeling some early signs of altitude sickness – mainly nausea. TAKE YOUR ALTITUDE PILLS NOW. The elevation will only get higher from here.

Sleep on the bus over night. Peru Hop provides thick blankets and the seats recline. It was a genuinely comfortable sleep, for a bus.

Day 4 – Travel to Cusco

We had a stop in Arequipa sometime around 5 am. A few hours later we awoke to a small walk-up breakfast place somewhere outside of Arequipa for a really cheap and great tasting breakfast with a view of Misti, a symmetrical snow-capped volcano with a 19,101-ft. summit & 2 climbing routes. Its last eruption was in 1985, 198 years after its previous documented eruption.

It was at this point that many people started to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Many were complaining of headaches. We had already popped our pills and were feeling fine.

Breakfast View-Misti

After a few hours we stopped off at the Lagunillas Mirador Viewpoint – at 4444 m (14,580 ft) above sea level, this is one of the highest elevations in Peru, overlooking Lake Lagunillas. Here you could go to the bathroom and purchase knitted sweaters or hats for your journey. It was a bit cold at this point, so we shelled out a few bucks for some knitted Peruvian hats.

Lagunillas Mirador Viewpoint

Tips to Prevent Altitude Sickness

  1. Get plenty of Acetazolamide, or similar, pills from your travel doctor ahead of time – the more the merrier. We ran out to soon.
  2. Know when you’re approaching high altitude and take your pills ahead of time.
    1. Altitude Sickness starts at 2500 m (8000 ft) above sea level
    1. Risk increases as you go higher in elevation
  3. Gradually climb in elevation Peru Hop’s Lima to Arequipa to Cusco route gives your body the chance to acclimatize.
  4. Be cautious when ascending to very high altitudes of 3500 m (11,500 ft) and above.

Buffet lunch stop with the Peru Hop team in the middle of nowhere.

Arrive in Cusco by 18:30.

While in Cusco, make your way to your hotel/hostel and enjoy the town. We were fortunate enough to have enough Marriott Rewards Point mileage points to splurge on a fancy hotel in Valle Sagrado (near the town of Urubamba), about 1.5 hour drive north of Cusco, around the halfway point between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

We stayed in Tambo del Inka Resort and Spa, part of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) group through Marriott. This. Place. Was. Bomb. Hands down on of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Collect those points! Get a great sign up bonus of up to 3 FREE nights in a hotel 35,000 points or less and a FREE night each year on your anniversary by qualifying for a Bonvoy Boundless Marriott Rewards Credit Card here.

Day 5 – Machu Picchu

6 a.m.-Take train to Aguas Calientes-steps from Tambo del Inka

Tambo Del Inka has their own PeruRail Train Stop for Departures Only
Sit on the left hand side of the train going to Machu Picch for stunning views of the Urubamba River (on the right on your return)
PeruRail Sacred Valley View on the way to Machu Picchu, Peru

9 a.m.-Meet up with our tour guide and take bus to Machu Picchu

10 a.m.-Walk the grounds of Machu Picchu

Get Your Machu Picchu Passport Stamp Here
Photo Op Bench-Machu Picchu, Peru

11 a.m.-Climb Huayna Picchu

Edyta and our guide checking us in for the Huayna Picchu Trek
Made it! Altitude 8924”
View from the Huayna Picchu, Peru Summit
Inca Steps
The way down
Inside the way down-must be bendy to get through

1-2 p.m.-Descend Huayna Picchu and explore more of Machu Picchu

PRO TIP: Our guide told us the best time for pictures and climbing weather in Machu Picchu is September/October.

2 p.m.-Buffet lunch

3:30 p.m.-Catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes and explore the town

6 p.m.-Take the train back to Urubamba then picked up by private car to Hotel Tambo De Inka

8 p.m. Hot tub, pool, repeat. The indoor/outdoor pool had the most stunning starry night and planetary views.

Day 6 – Cusco and Overnight Bus to Puno

We started the day by visiting the nearby town of Ollantaytambo – ordering a taxi through our hotel.

This town features Incan ruins and archeological site, with the Temple of the Sun. It was a nice landmark where we spent the morning exploring and learning about Incan structures. Pay a small entrance fee and explore. No need to pay for a tour guide, but there are plenty of qualified guides at the ready.

Zona Militar-Ollantaytambo, Peru
Fun Fact: The “P” in the official Peru tourist marketing logo is the Nazca Lines monkey tail. (Scroll back and forth for comparison)

This was also the perfect location for us to find a local bar, drink the local brew (Cusqueña Dorada), and fill out our postcards. There is a nice food market at the centre of town, and a small Plaza de Armas (aka the main square of a town) where you will find a bar/restaurant on the second floor facing the hillside.

View from the rooftop bar
Sending out our postcards to family and friends

We slowly made our way to Cusco via a private car hire and did some casual exploring. Here we also visited the local Peru Hop office to add on features and confirm our reservation.

Plaza De Armas-Cusco, Peru

Later that night we made our way to the Bolivia Hop bus terminal (sister company of Peru Hop) and boarded our overnight bus from Cusco to Puno. We chose the Cusco – Puno – Copacabana – La Paz route for $59USD. Here is the itinerary:

Side trip to the Rainbow Mountains

Unfortunately, and regretfully, we missed out on an opportunity to visit the Rainbow Mountains. Partly because we didn’t have the time in our tight itinerary (this is a FULL DAY excursion) and partly because we didn’t know this place existed until we were reading the brochures on the bus! It has substantially grown in popularity over the last few years, and is becoming the second most visited tourist attraction in Peru next to Machu Picchu.

Check out this wonderful post by Along Dusty Roads on the 11 Things to Know Before You Visit Rainbow Mountain in Peru: https://www.alongdustyroads.com/posts/rainbow-mountain-cusco-peru

Day 7 – Lake Titicaca and Cross the Border to Bolivia

Arrive in Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca first thing in the morning. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the entire world. It is a very large and deep lake in the Andes mountain range, split between Bolivia and Peru.

Peru Hop gets you here early in the morning allowing us to be the first tourists on the lake. Definitely visit the Uros Islands, a series of floating islands made of reeds that need constant replenishing and maintenance. Here you will visit a local family where they will show you how they live. Bring cash to buy local wares and to get your Lake Titicaca Passport Stamp.

Reed Base of Floating Uros IslandS-Lake Titicaca, Peru
Reed Boat-Lake Titicaca, Peru
Uros Islands-Lake Titicaca, Peru
Uros Islands-Lake Titicaca, Peru
Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru

Hop back on the bus and finish your tour of Peru as you got dropped off at the Peru-Bolivia border just outside Copacabana. This is where the fun starts.

This border is unlike any other – it is basically a long stretch of road on both sides lined with makeshift markets, pop up food vendors, and basically people just selling stuff out of their cars. Peru Hop will drop you off as close to the border as the bus can reach, and you then have to snake your walk on foot through the crowds of people with your belongings so you can catch the sister Bolivia Hop bus once you cross the border. This is such a unique mix of people, and is also the first place you will start seeing the famous bowler hat worn by Bolivian women.

ToeB leading our tour bus group to the border (notice the stack of mattresses)
Negotiating 101-Bolivia-Peru Border Mall
Arch In The Distance is the Bolivia-Peru Border
These pictures do not fully represent the sheer chaos of the border-it was glorious madness

Find the Peruvian border office along the left of the road. It is very easy to miss, so don’t rush, people will usually wave you in. Once you get your exit stamp, continue down the road and step into Bolivia under the stone archway. You then have to go to the Bolivian border office also immediately to the left and get your entrance stamp. Nothing complicated in either office, but you do have to fill out visitor cards.

PRO TIP: Always save any visa or entry cards given to you at the border.

Wait for the rest of the people on your bus and meet up with the Bolivia Hop guide who will take to their bus.

Ride to Copacabana and do a boat tour to the Isla del Sol, a small island on Lake Titicaca, and the birthplace of the first Incan ancestors. Once you arrive at the island of Yumani, hike through the hills and reach the original sun temple. At the end of the hike you will find the fountain of youth. Sadly, we did not drink out of it.

Boat ride to Isla Del Sol-Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
View of Lake Titicaca Bolivia side from Isla Del Sol
The Fountain of Youth on the Isla Del Sol, Bolivia

Drop off is late at night in La Paz. Since we had an early morning (4am) flight to Chile via Lima, we arranged for a ride to directly to the airport through Bolivia Hop – who arranged the transport and dropped us off at the pick spot. Definitely use the Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop guides as your source for local information, advice and safety.

How to Spend the Night in an Airport

  1. Try to cross security as soon as possible since the more comfortable seats are airport side. This is also safer especially when sleeping overnight since only travelers are allowed past security (and have been screened through security).
    • Usually you can only cross security 4-6 hours before your flight.
    • It is better if you have a layover in between flights since you are already airport side and don’t have to re-cross security.
    • If you do a quick tour of the city you are laying over in, I suggest checking your luggage on the first flight so you don’t have to drag your bags around the layover city.
  2. Find a working power outlet and charge your stuff.
  3. Look for a comfy spot and settle in the for the night. It will get cold, so layer up and curl up to your stuff, ideally using your bag as a pillow or leg rest.
Passed out in La Paz International Airport

Pro Tip – Get a credit card or join a program that provides you access to airport lounges. THIS IS KEY. Usually there is a limit to how much time you can spend in these lounges, but at least you’ll have a chunk of time to eat, drink, nap and recharge, for FREE. Once you have outstayed your welcome, just move to another lounge.

Day 8 – Fly to Chile

3am groggy early morning shuffle through security at La Paz airport. WARNING – it is a LONG LONG LONG line since literally every single native South American will be searched for drugs. After what felt like an hour waiting to cross security with only a handful of people in front of us, we were prepared to unpack every single item of our incredibly stuffed backpacks, only to find that us North American tourists were not subjected to the intense search. Phew!

La Paz to Lima (recharge at an airport lounge) to Santiago, Chile with Latam Airlines, a staple South American airline with decent deals and good service.

I received an email 24 hours before the flight regarding an upgrade lottery. This is where you put in a bid to get upgraded to business class. Since we had been cramped up in a bid for two night I put in the lowest bid of $150 per ticket and won. We spent our 3 hour flight sprawled out in business class.

This is what winning an upgrade bid looks like!

We stayed at a hotel near the airport since it was close, cheap and had an airport shuttle. We didn’t do much that night other than chill out in the room and watch Spanish sitcoms. It is not uncommon to just chill one night on an intense travel itinerary. You want to be rested for the good stuff.

Days 9 to 11 – Fly to Easter Island

One of the most exciting legs of our journey was the days we spent in Easter Island, locally known as Rapa Nui. This tiny island in the middle of the Pacific held so much mystique, and it did not disappoint.

Check out ToeB’s blog post for the full details of our 4-day and 3-night adventure.

Ahu Tongariki

Day 12 – Fly back to Santiago

Flights back to main land Chile usually leave mid-afternoon, leaving you those last few hours in the morning to soak up as much of Rapa Nui as you can. We spent the morning visiting the closest moai and reveling in the history of these peoples.

Hop on the Centropuerto bus from Santiago airport to downtown (we got off at the Los Heroes stop). Very affordable ($3400 peso or $4.30USD round trip) and safe. Bus departs every 30 minutes. Go to their counter to book your tickets. The bus has WIFI on board as well.

I found a great hostel in the heart of the city – Happy House Hostel, which is a 1920s style apartment building with spacious rooms, great lounge areas, and a back patio with a pool. We watched some great classic VH1 while staying here.

This hostel is in a safe and quiet neighbourhood just walking distance from Santiago’s main square, the Plaza des Armas. The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly.

Just across the street from a decent restaurant, Sole Mio, offering mainly Italian dishes but plenty of Chilean wine.

Days 13 and 14 – Exploring and Drinking in Santiago

The Santiago Free Walking Tour is one of the BEST and most memorable to date. Tours run every day Monday to Sunday at 10am and 3pm. Meeting Point is in front of the Cathedral in Plaza des Armas. Look for guides wearing red “Free Tours” T-shirts. Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides.

Bonus: The tour comes with a “security” dog named Gordo (aka fat dog) who will beg for food scraps while getting a sniff of you at the café pit stop in the bohemian Barrio Lastarria, but will legitimately follow the group a few blocks ensuring no one messes with us. The quick sniff at the cafe helps him identify who is in the group once we hit the street. He attacked (protected) us from multiple people for getting to close to us while walking. A woman actually swung her purse at Gordo…good dog.

The tour discusses the current geopolitical climate in Chile, and the famous 1973 US-backed Chilean military coup d’etat as you stand in front of the Palacio de La Moneda watching the daily changing of the guards, where you can still spot bullet holes and a memorial to the late President Allende. Thus began one of the most devastating eras in Chilean history as General Pinochet held dictatorial control of Chile until 1990, and was responsible for various human rights abuses of his political opponents, including torture, disappearances and murder.

Palacio de La Moneda-Santiago, Chile
President Allende Memorial-Santiago, Chile

Be sure to visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights while in Santiago:

Museum of Memory and Human Rights

We continue our tour through the various Santiago neighbourhoods, where we learn about the café with legs, the famous Chilean poet and Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Nerudo, how the locals live and work, and of course, the best neighbourhood for enjoying a beverage – Barrio Bellavista on Pio Nono. Located near the university and south of the famous San Cristobal park, this barrio is known as the entertainment district, where the streets are lined with patio tables packed with young and old, locals and tourists.

Pablo Nerudo House-Sanitago, Chile

After the walking tour, take a series of cable cars up San Cristobal Hill, where you will see beautiful views of Santiago city in the foreground, and the towering Andes Mountains in the background. There are a lot of hiking trails if you have the time to explore.

Trails around San Cristobal Hill-Santiago, Chile
Santiago City below with the Andes Mountains looming in the distance-Santiago, Chile

Finish the day in the Barrio Bellavista, beginning with a traditional Chilean dinner at Galindo – this place is PACKED with tourists but mainly locals, so you know it’s good. Anything on the menu will be great.

Explore the various bars and try the local drinks. I recommend grabbing an outdoor seat at the dive bar Bar La Nona. Make sure you remember your route back to your hotel.

Must Try Chilean Drinks

  1. Terremoto – literally means “earthquake” since your legs will feel shaky after having this drink. A unique and sweet drink consisting of pineapple ice cream, sweet fermented white wine called Pipeno, and grenadine. Limit to only 1 per night, trust me.
  2. Any Chilean wine – there are so many great varieties to chose from. Best to get a recommendation from your server. Try this wine bar, Bocanariz, in Barrio Lastarria (pricey but extensive and worthwhile wine selection): http://bocanariz.cl/
  3. Pisco Sour – unlike the Peruvian version, this one consists of Pisco, lemon, sugar and ice (no egg whites and less sugar).
  4. Beer – surprisingly (maybe not so surprisingly) there is a strong German influence in Chile due to the German immigration in the 19th century. There are plenty of large, tasty and cheap lagers available, such as:
    • Cerveza Austral – lager brewed in Patagonia. The best tasting of all the beers.
    • Escudo – Chile’s national beer, a pale lager
    • Cristal
The Chileans properly drink by ordering a liter of beer (in a plastic bottle) which they share with the table via tiny glasses.
Don’t drink straight out of the bottle…

The Markets

There are two really good markets in Santiago. The first is El Mercado Central (Central Market). Open 6:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m on Friday. It is located at Ismael Valdes Vergara 900, Santiago, Chile. Visit for amazing seafood dishes surrounded by unique architecture. This market is a South American food court.

We were visiting Santiago during Chile’s week long Independence Day Celebrations from Spain.

La Vega Central, also known as the Feria Mapocho (Mapocho market) is located by the Recoleta commune in Santiago, Chile on the banks of the Mapocho River. This market is sells a wide variety of products including fresh fruits and vegetables. The market house over 500 dairy, meat, and other goods and merchandise stores. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through the 60,000 square meters of stalls daily. It is quite an experience.

Day 15 – Flight back to Lima

Early morning flight from Santiago to Lima. Catch the Centropuerto bus from Los Heroes station back to the airport with your roundtrip ticket stub. Flight with SKY Airlines.

We used Marriott points again to book at the Courtyard Lima Miraflores, the same neighbourhood we stayed at when we first landed. We arranged for our airport pickup through the hotel.

Fun Fact – when we stayed in this hotel, our hotel-mates at the time included a portion of the National Women’s USA Gymnastics Team (sans Simone Biles), since Lima was hosting the Pan Am Games at the time. We shared our breakfast buffet with the team and coaches, and made sure to send them good vibes for their upcoming events. It clearly worked, since the Women’s USA Team won GOLD in every single Artistic Gymnastics category, most of the Rhythmic Gymnastics, and even the Trampoline Gymnastics.

Explore the Miraflores Neighbourhood:

  • 1. Walk the coastline, where the walking trails overlook the Pacific Ocean.
  • 2. Shop at Larcomar, an outdoor shopping mall built into the cliffside
  • 3. Paragliding-feeling gutsy take a tandem flight with Aeroxtreme off of the Costa Verde‘s Cliff.
  • 3. Buy authentic Peruvian products at the Mercado Artesanal.
  • 4. Eat some of the best food in the world (restaurant list below).
  • 5. Visit Parque Central Miraflores and adjacent Parque Kennedy-dedicated to John F Kennedy the park has unique artwork and is overrun by cats hanging out and looking to be fed. Apparently JFK was a cat man.
Giant Vase Sculpture-Parque Central Miraflores, Peru
Plaza San Martín-Lima, Peru
Plaza De Armas-Lima, Peru
Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace of Peru)-Lima-Peru -Watch changing of the Guard
  • 7. Visit Huaca Pucllana pre-Inca Pyramid site built by the first cultures living in Peru during the 4th century.
Huaca Pucllana-Miraflores, Peru
Huaca Pucllana-Miraflores, Peru

Places to Eat

  1. Punto Azul – ceviche, ceviche, ceviche, but mainly packed with locals *be prepared to wait ~30 minutes for a table*.
  2. Amaz – one of the best restaurants in all of Peru, where all ingredients are sourced from the Amazon, and the dishes are masterfully arranged to create a unique and tasty experience *Reservations required*.
  3. Central – one of the most world-renowned restaurants, known for experimental techniques and recipes, showcasing Peruvian produce from different altitudes *very difficult to get a reservation*.
  4. Astrid y Gaston – also known for their ceviche, but a more upscale restaurant.

Day 16-17 – Flight back to Toronto

Evening departure from Lima overnight to Miami and then Toronto.

Cheers to a busy and incredible 17 Days in Peru, Bolivia and Chile!

South America September 2018 Itinerary:

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